Friday, June 11, 2010

How many 'z's does it take to spell Fresh Air?

It was all boyz on Terry Gross' Fresh Air (NPR) yesterday. The first interview was on the Gulf Disaster. And that should have been worth listening.

But were they speaking English?

Here's an excerpt:

GROSS: So what are some of your concerns about the larger impact that hydraulic fracturing is having?

Mr. LUSTGARTEN: Well, they're several folds, but one of the most interesting things that I found is that there is essentially no scientific understanding of what happens to both the fractured rock and the chemicals that are left underground after the rock is fractured. And look at a water constrained future, a future in which reservoirs and underground aquifers are becoming increasingly valuable, not just in the west but in the east and here we have a process where extraordinarily large volumes of chemically contaminated water, water that nobody would represent as being safe to drink or even necessarily treatable to turn into drinking water and we're injecting it without a lot of forethought, without a lot of study and with very little understanding of where it goes and what its long-term ramifications might be.
When you couple those concerns with hundreds of reports of well contamination across the United States, of both methane bubbling up into water and making tap water flammable and other levels of heavy metals and in some cases, chemicals in drinking water supplies, it points to questions that I think that regulators need to answer before the drilling is allowed to proceed at the pace in which it's been happening.


ZZZZZZzzzzz.

Huh?

Is the geography lecture over yet?

Could they have tried speaking in average person speak? Would that have been so hard? Apparently so.

After a nice lengthy nap during the first part of the show, you could have slept the rest of the hour or listened to a chat with an actor.

ZZZZZZzzzzzzz.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, June 11, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, 2 US service members are killed in Iraq, rumors of a plot to kill Ayad Allawi circulate in Iraq, the US Pentagon is on the hunt for WikiLeaks, and more.

On NPR today,
The Diane Rehm Show had plenty of time to trash Helen Thomas (including Yochi Dreazen insisting Helen only ever spoke at the White House press briefings to attack Israel -- and not one guest nor Diane bothered to correct him). They just didn't have time for Iraq. No, two sentences of refusing to shoulder the blame for the illegal war they sold -- two sentences from Yochi Dreazen -- does not count as addressing Iraq (especially when even that only came up due to a caller holding the Gang of Useless accountable). No time for Iraq. Good thing nothing happened in Iraq all damn week, right?


Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) report a Diyala Province bombing which has claimed the lives of 2 US soldiers with six more left injured, 6 Iraqis left dead and twenty-two more left injured. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) adds, "Jalawla lies in the restive Diyala province, a mixed region of Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds that once was one of the most dangerous places in Iraq." The two deaths bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq to 4405. Anthony Shadid (New York Times) provides this context, "The attack was the deadliest on the American military here in more than two months. It was also a grim reminder that while violence has diminished remarkably across Iraq, hundreds of people are still killed each month here. So far this year, 35 American soldiers have died in Iraq in combat or in what the military terms 'non-hostile' incidents." Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) explains there have been three other attacks on US forces this week, "In the first, a roadside bomb exploded as a U.S. convoy traveled on a highway through predominantly Sunni Anbar province. No casualties were reported, but the blast left a large crater, and a McClatchy reporter at the scene saw a crane lifting a heavily damaged U.S. armored vehicle onto a flatbed truck. American forces cordoned off the area, blocking traffic, and didn't allow even Iraqi security forces near the scene. Later Thursday afternoon, a roadside bomb targeted a U.S. convoy as it headed toward Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said. Iraqi authorities said they had no information on casualties because American forces didn't allow their Iraqi counterparts near the scene. At about 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, just south of Baghdad in Yusifiya, another roadside bomb exploded near U.S. forces. No casualties were reported." Two US service members killed in a bombing in Iraq? Sorry, Diane and NPR had others to cover, important things, trashing an outstanding journalist, for example. What a proud moment for them.

The attackers of Helen missed the violence in Iraq today . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left nine people wounded, a second Baghdad roadside bombing injured five people (two were Iraqi soldiers), a Mosul University bombing claimed the life of 1 military officer and, dropping back to yesterday, a Baghdad suicide car bombing claimed the life of the driver and the lives of 1 Sahwa commander, 1 woman, 1 military officer and 1 other man while wounding ten people. Reuters notes a Thursday Tikrit car bombing which claimed 1 life.

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes 1 woman was shot dead in Kirkuk last night.

Corpses?

Reuters notes 2 corpses were discovered in Kirkuk.

Fang Yang (Xinhua) observes, "Sporadic attacks and waves of violence continue across Iraq three months after the country held its landmark parliamentary election on March 7, which is widely expected to shape the political landscape of the war-torn country." March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government. Yesterday Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) reported that the State of Law slate and the Iraqi National Alliance had officially "announced their merger". This morning Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) adds, "It still has to be formally approved by lawmakers when they convene for the first time on June 14." Reuters notes they intend to operate "under a new name, National Alliance, but have yet to resolve differences over their nominee for prime minister". BBC News adds, "The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says that both the Shia and secular-Sunni blocs will now be claiming the right to be asked to form a government. The constitution is unclear on the issue." In other political news, Maad Fayad (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports, "Senior Arab and Iraqi security officials revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat what it described as an 'elaborate plot' to assassinate the head of the Iraqiya List, Iyad Allawi. The sources said that 'local groups are involved in this plot and it is also backed by a regional party'." Meanwhile how much do Iraqi citizens pay their government officials? Guess what? They aren't supposed to know. So much for 'democracy' in Iraq. At Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy notes Al Alam Newspaper has published possible salaries:Iraqi president: About 700,000 USD a year Iraqi Vice presidents: 600,000 USD a year but Iraqi news agencies said that Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi said he receives a One Million USD a month, in total. Prime Minister office said that Al Maliki receives 360,000 USD a year. But some official sources said that the Prime Minister's salary is equal to the Iraqi President's - so they should receive the same salary. Head of the Judiciary council makes about 100,000 USD a month (not clear on allocations).

Sahwa are also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq." They are, as former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and then-top US commander in Iraq Gen David Petraeus explained to Congress (repeatedly) in April 2008, Sunni fighters who were put on the US payroll so they wouldn't attack US troops and equipment. Actually, Petreaus claimed they were "Shia as well as Sunni" when appearing before Congress on
April 8, 2008 and discussing the "over 91,000" "Awakening." He insisted, "These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts." Nouri was supposed to take over payment of them and bring them into the government. Nouri does very little he promises. Over the weekend, he pulled their right to carry firearms in Diayala Province. Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) reports, "Leaders of the Sahwas controlling around 10,000 personnel in Diyala warned that they would stop cooperating with government security forces if their weapon permits and special badges were withdrawn. In other provinces, members of the Sahwas warned that they would not obey if they were ordered to disarm." Late 2005 through 2007 (or often reduced to 2006 and 2007) saw Iraqis attacking other Iraqis on a huge scale and is popularly known as the "civil war." This level of violence dropped as it had to when a large number of Iraqis fled the country or fled their homes to other parts of the country. (A large number? One-sixth of the population. Over four million Iraqis became refugees.) In the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 8, 2008, Joe Biden noted, "Violence has come down, but the Iraqis have not come together. Our military played an important role in the violence. So did three other developments. First, the Sunni Awakening, which preceded the surge. Second, the Sadr cease-fire. Third, sectarian cleansing that left much of Baghdad segregated, with fewer targets to shoot or bomb." Joe Biden was then Chair of the Committee. Today he's the US Vice President. And that's changed. But what about the situation he was describing? If the three developments led to a decrease in the violence, what happens when one of the developments is no longer present? Something to think about as Nouri continues his war on the Sahwa.

And as the Iraq War continues -- long after the promise candidate Barack Obama repeatedly made while campaigning for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- people begin to ask if it ever ends.
Peter Symonds (WSWS) outlines a number of disturbing trends:

In his comments last Friday, General Odierno declared that the "drawdown" was ahead of schedule -- 600,000 containers of gear and 18,000 vehicles moved out; and the number of bases down from 500 last year to 126 and set to decline to 94 by September 1. What is actually underway, however, is not a withdrawal, but a vast consolidation in preparation for the long-term occupation of the country by US forces.
The Stars and Stripes newspaper noted in an article on June 1 that the ratification of the US-Iraq security agreement in November 2008 governing the drawdown was followed by a massive expansion of base construction work. "In all, the military finished $496 million in base construction projects during 2009, the highest annual figure since the war began and nearly a quarter of the $2.1 billion spent on American bases in Iraq since 2004. An additional $323 million worth of projects are set to be completed this year."
While the number of US bases may be declining, the Pentagon is establishing what are known as "enduring presence posts" -- including four major bases: Joint Base Balad in the north, Camp Adder in southern Iraq, Al-Asad Air Base in the west and the Victory Base Complex around Baghdad International Airport. These are sprawling fortified facilities -- Balad alone currently houses more than 20,000 troops. In addition to the 50,000 troops that will remain, there will be up to 65,000 contractors after September 1.Under the 2008 agreement, the US military handed over internal security functions to Iraqi forces last year, but, under the guise of "training" and "support", retains tighter supervision of the army and police. Moreover the Iraqi government can always "request" US troop assistance in mounting operations. As Odierno explained in a letter to US personnel on June 1, even after all US combat troops leave, "we will continue to conduct partnered counter-terrorism operations and provide combat enablers to help the Iraqi Security Forces maintain pressure on the extremist networks."
The 2008 agreement sets December 31, 2011 as the deadline for all US troops to quit Iraq, but the construction of huge new US bases indicates a long-term US military presence under a Strategic Framework Agreement that is yet to be negotiated.

Another one noticing realities is Pentagon Papers whistle blower
Daniel Ellsberg and he shares them with Marc Pitzke (Der Spiegel):

Ellsberg: I think Obama is continuing the worst of the Bush administration in terms of civil liberties, violations of the constitution and the wars in the Middle East.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: For example?

Ellsberg: Take Obama's explicit pledge in his State of the Union speech to remove "all" United States troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. That's a total lie. I believe that's totally false. I believe he knows that's totally false. It won't be done. I expect that the US will have, indefinitely, a residual force of at least 30,000 US troops in Iraq.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about Afghanistan? Isn't that a justifiable war?

Ellsberg: I think that there's an inexcusable escalation in both countries. Thousands of US officials know that bases and large numbers of troops will remain in Iraq and that troop levels and bases in Afghanistan will rise far above what Obama is now projecting. But Obama counts on them to keep their silence as he deceives the public on these devastating, costly, reckless ventures.

Daniel Ellsberg was Scott Horton's guest for yesterday's
Antiwar Radio. They're discussing Bradley Manning. Who? Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reports the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange: "Pentagon investigators are trying to determine the whereabouts of the Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks for fear that he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security, government officials tell The Daily Beast."

Today
WikiLeak's Twitter feed has noted:


Pentagon manhunt for WikiLeaks staff declared:
http://bit.ly/cN1Kl8 just say no: http://bit.ly/ctRxAV via bitly

Any signs of unacceptable behavior by the Pentagon or its agents towards this press will be viewed dimly.
via bitly

Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait) notes the real crimes and WikiLeaks:

The
Crimes Are Crimes statement has been published in The New York Review of Books, The Nation, and now, will next be placed in The Humanist. You can help spread this message and challenge the conscience of people by signing, donating and printing it out for your community (ask store owners if they will display this poster!).
The more I've shown the 17 minute version of Collateral Murder -- even to seasoned anti-war activists -- the more I see how important it is that people
SEE this video.
And the more outrageous it is that a 22 year old Army enlisted man, Bradley Manning, is being charged with leaking the footage to
WikiLeaks.org. The war crimes, and criminal acts the whole world can see in this footage are justified and excused by the US government. And a person who they say leaked it is criminally charged?!?
Today the
Iraq Inquiry announced that their next set of hearings will "run from 29 June to 30 July 2010, at the QE II conference centre in London" and the following will be witnesses:

*Cathy Adams (Legal Counsellor, Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, 2002 to 2005)
*Geoffrey Adams KCMG (HM Ambassador to Iran, 2006 to 2009)
*Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth MP (Minister of State for the Armed Forces, 2007 to 2009 Secretary of State for Defence, 2009)
*Andy Bearpack CBE (Director Operations and Infrastructure in the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003 to 2004)
*Dr Hanx Blix (1st Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, 2000 to 2003)
*Rt Hon The Lord Boateng (Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 2002 to 2005)
*Douglas Brand (OBE) (Chief Police Adviser to the Ministry of Interior, Baghdad, 2003 to 2004)
*Dr Nicola Brewer CMG (Director General Regional Prorammes, Department of International Development, 2002 to 2004)
*Jonathan Cunliffe CB (Managing Director, Financial Regulation & Industry, 2002; Managing Director, Macroeconomic Policy and International Finance, HM Treasury, 2003 to 2007)
*Richard Dalton KCMG (HM Abassadort to Iran, 2003 to 2006)
*General Richard Dannatt GCB CBE ME (Assistant Chief of the General Staff, 2001 to 2002; Commander in Chief Land Command, 2005 to 2006; Chief of the General STaff, 2006 to 2009)
*John Dodds (Team Leader - Defence, Diplomacy and Intelligence; HM Treasury, 2003 to 2005)
*Lt Gen James Dutton CBE (General Officer Commanding Multi National Division - South East - 2005; Deputy Chief of Joint Operations 2007 - 2009)
*Lt Gen Andrew Figgures (Deputy Chief of Defense Staff -- Equipment Capability -- 2006 - 2009)
*Ronnie Flanagan GBE QPM (HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, 2005 - 2008)
*Lt Gen Robert Fulton KBE (Deputy Chief of Defense Staff Equipment Capability 2003 - 2006)
*John Holmes GCVO KBE CMG (HM Ambassador to Paris 2001 - 2007)
*Martin Howard CB (DIrector General Operational Policy MOD 2004- 2007)
*General Mike Jackson GCB CBE DSO DL (Commander in Chief Land Command 2000 - 2003; Chief of the General Staff 2003 - 2006)
*Sally Keeble (Minister of State, Department for International Development 2002 - 2003)
*Paul Kernaghan CBE QPM (International Policing portfolio lead, Association of Chief Police Officers for England, Wales & Northern Ireland, 2001 - 2008)
*Iain Macleod (Legal Counsellor to the United Kingdom's Mission to the United Nations, 2001 - 2004)
*Tom McKane (Director General Resource & Plans, Ministry of Defence, 2002 - 2006)
*Bruce Mann CB (Director General Financial Management, Ministry of Defence 2001 - 2004).
*Manningham Buller DCB (Deputy Director General, Security Service, 2001 - 2002; Director General, Security Service, 2002 - 2007)*Carolyn Miller (Director Europe, Middle East and Americas, Department for International Development, 2001 - 2004)
*General Kevin O'Donoghue KCB CBE (Deputy Chief of Defence Staff Health, 2002 - 2004; Chief of Defence Logistics 2005 - 2007; Chief of Defence Material 2007 - 2009)
*Rt Hon John Prescott (First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister, to 2007)
*Carne Ross (First Secretary, United Kingdom Mission to New York, 1998 - 2002)
*Maj Gen Andy Salmon CMG OBE (General Officer Commanding Multi National Division South East, 2008 -2009)
*Michael Wareing CMG (Prime Minister's Envoy for Reconstruction in Souther Iraq and Chairman of the Basra Development Commission, 2007 - 2009)
*Stephen White OBE (Directof of Law and Order and Senior Police Adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003 - 2004)
*Vice Adm Peter Wilkinson CVO (Deputy Chief of Defense Staff Personnel, 2007 to present)
*Trevor Wooley CB (Director General Resources & Plans, Ministry of Defence, 1998 - 2002; Financial Director, Ministry of Defence, 2003 - 2009)

The Iraq Inquiry is Chaired by John Chilcot and they believe a report will be completed by year's end and that there might also be a round of hearings in the fall.
Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) observes, "Hans Blix is the headline name and there are some other witnesses who might not toe the government line." Though Blix should offer some very interesting testimony, he's not the only name of interest on the list. For example, Carne Ross will probably pull in a number of the press when he testifies. A 2008 Time magazine profile by Jumana Farouky opened with:

As Carne Ross talks about how he resigned from the British Foreign Office in 2004 after Britain's decision to go to war in Iraq proved more than he could abide in a frustrating 15-year diplomatic career, the phone rings. "That'll be Kosovo," Ross says. Probably calling to say thanks.

A 2006 report by Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) on the push for the Iraq War noted:

A devastating attack on Mr Blair's justification for military action by Carne Ross, Britain's key negotiator at the UN, has been kept under wraps until now because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act.
In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He said that during his posting to the UN, "at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests."
Mr Ross revealed it was a commonly held view among British officials dealing with Iraq that any threat by Saddam Hussein had been "effectively contained".

Click here for the BBC video of Carne Ross explaining how the Inquiry should have questioned Tony Blair. Chris Ames has covered the Iraq Inquiry forever and a day -- and on the issues at the heart of the inquiry before Gordon Brown was even agreeing to allow a commission. Iraq Inquiry Digest is Chris Ames' site (his writing appears at the Guardian, The New Statesman and other outlets). At the Guardian today, he takes on Nick Clegg:

In opposition, Nick Clegg had some harsh criticism for the way that Gordon Brown's government restricted the ability of the Iraq inquiry to uncover the truth. Clegg's appointment as deputy prime minister seemed to promise a new attitude of openness and at the weekend
he seemed to be promising to put this into practice. In particular, he promised that the inquiry will only be prevented from publishing documents for reasons of national security. But it looks as if nothing is going to change any time soon, if at all.
What
Clegg said the Hay festival on Sunday -- as Today programme listeners will have heard this morning -- was true as far as it went, but his language about how to solve the problem is intriguing. He said that the inquiry's openness would be the key to determining its legitimacy and: "The battle that needs to be fought is to make sure in the final Chilcot report the presumption is towards real, meaningful, thorough disclosure." He added that "the challenge is to make sure there is real disclosure when they publish their findings." But Nick, you are the deputy prime minister. It's up to you.

The Guardian's
Richard Norton-Taylor has been covering the Inquiry at length as well and he reviews the witness list and emphasizes Eliza Manningham-Buller who "told the Guardian last year that she had warned ministers and officials that an invasion of Iraq would increase the terrorist threat. Amid Anglo-US preparations to invade Iraq, she asked: 'Why now?'"


In the United States, the Arlington National Cemetery scandal continues to garner (deserved) attention.
Richard Sisk (New York Daily News) sums it up very well in two sentences, "They didn't arrive at Arlington National Cemetery as unknown soldiers. The Army just treated them that way." Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) offers this overview, "The inspector general, Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb, found one case involving personnel killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. In that instance, two grave markers had been switched. Other cases involved areas of the cemetery used to inter personnel from earlier conflicts. [. . .] The extent of the problems at one of the nation's most venerated memorials was not entirely clear. In some cases, grave markers had been knocked over and not properly replaced, the report said. Other reported cases involved poor record-keeping. Whitcomb said there was no indication of mistakes at the point of burial." Michael E. Ruane (Washington Post) adds, "The investigators found that these and other blunders were the result of a 'dysfunctional' and chaotic management system at the cemetery, which was poisoned by bitterness among top supervisors and hobbled by antiquated record-keeping." Those looking for a strong audio report on the story should refer to The Takeaway where Salon's Mark Benjamin is one of the guests and Dorothy Nolte (her sister is buried into Arlington Cemetery).

TV notes. On PBS'
Washington Week, John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Alexis Simendinger (National Journal) and Karen Tumulty (Washington Post) join Gwen around the table. This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Jehan Harney, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Melinda Henneberger, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's online bonus is on drilling for oil. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Cyber WarCould hackers get into the computer systems that run crucial elements of the world's infrastructure, such as the power grids, water works or even a nation's military arsenal, to create havoc? They already have. Steve Kroft reports.
Watch Video
The Great ExplorerRobert Ballard discovered the Titanic, the Bismarck and the PT 109 and now 60 Minutes cameras are there for his latest discovery, 1,500 feet down in the Aegean Sea off Turkey. Lara Logan reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Radio. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (airs on most NPR stations and streams live online beginning at 10:00 am EST), Diane is joined the first hour (domestic news roundup) by Byron York (Washington Examiner), David Corn (Mother Jones) and Dayo Olopade (Daily Beast). For the second hour (international), she's joined by Yochi Dreazen (Wall St. Journal), Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) and Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera).


iraq
nprthe diane rehm showcnnmohammed tawfeeqjomana karadsheh
the washington post
leila fadel
the new york timesanthony shadid
mcclatchy newspapershannah allem
sahar issa
xinhuafang yang
bloomberg newscaroline alexanderpress tval-ahram weeklysalah hemeidinside iraqmcclatchy newspapers
asharq alawsat newspapermaad fayad
the new york daily newsrichard siskthe los angeles timesjulian e. barnesthe washington postmichael e. ruane
antiwar radioscott hortondaniel ellsberg
the guardianchris ameswswspeter symonds
60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Terry Gross offers Don't Miss Radio for a change

Terry Gross actually had a show worth listening to yesterday: Joan Rivers was the guest. I'm not a Joan Rivers fan.

But she was a great interview. She covered everything you could think of in approximately 40 minutes plus. This was the sort of thing that Fresh Air should be doing. If Terry could do that, it really would be a show you wouldn't want to miss.

Here's an excerpt:

GROSS: What are some of the most painful things that have happened to you that you've ended up making jokes about on stage?
Ms. RIVERS: Oh, where do you start? My husband's suicide.
GROSS: Right.
Ms. RIVERS: Some man, 60 years old, that couldn't take the business and went and killed himself. How do you deal with that? How do you deal with that when you've got a 16-year-old daughter who gets the call? Huh?
And I'll tell you how you deal with that. You go through it, and you make jokes about it, and you continue with it, and you move forward. That's how you do it, or that's how I do it. Everyone handles things differently.
How do you make jokes about how do deal with bankruptcy? How do you deal with your fired from Fox when your numbers were still good, and you can't get a job for a year and a half? You do it. And I do it by making jokes.
GROSS: Now in the documentary about you, we see you booking as many dates as possible. Your schedule is just astoundingly complicated.
Ms. RIVERS: Yeah. Yeah.
GROSS: You're always traveling from one place to another. You have, like, four things lined up in a day. I mean, I don't know how you deal with that amount of travel and work. I mean, most people would be trying to decrease that a little bit, yeah.
Ms. RIVERS: Go look at, over the years, who you've spoken to and see who has survived and who hasn't, and it's the ones that work and keep on working and take whatever there is to take that's I will look at some of the people that were on my late night shows, that were on my daytime talk show, and you say whatever happened to? You can't rest on your laurels.
I hate to tell you, but Snookie(ph) from whatever that is, "Jersey Shore," better get busy because Snookie ain't going to be around in 15 years unless Snookie understands she's got to work. She can't sit around and expect a white limo to pick her up in four years.


That's a good section but I'd rank if fifth out of the top five moments of the interview. Meaning? There is so much more worth hearing. This was Terry Gross' best show since at least October.

And this is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, June 10, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Robert Gates lives in his own little world, the US Congress addresses disabilities, a grave scandal emerges in DC, and more.

Do they grow them extra stupid at the Christian Science Monitor? Apparently or we wouldn't have to forever call them out on their Iraq 'knowledge.'
Gail Russell Chaddock writes of a supplemental for the Afghanistan War. And reading through her 'reporting,' you may wonder if there are two supplementals US President Barack Obama is asking for? No, there's just one. Even the headline writer plays dumb. This is the same supplemental noted in the May 28th snapshot, "In the US, Brian Faler (Bloomberg News) notes, the Senate pushed through the war supplemental bill late last night on a 67 for and 28 against vote. The bill now goes to the House which will debate it sometime after their Memorial Day vacation." And, no, it's not just me noting it is a supplemental for the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Go to the June 7th snapshot and scroll down to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee press release. Here are the first two paragraphs:

On May 27th, Senate Democrats led the effort to pass a bipartisan supplemental appropriations bill that funds key counterterrorism and national security missions and supports disaster recovery initiatives by a vote of 67 to 28. The bill provides a total of $58.96 billion in emergency funding for Fiscal Year 2010 in support of ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the addition of 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as well as $2.6 billion for the Afghan Security Forces Fund and $1 billion for the Iraqi Security Forces Fund; more than $5.5 billion for continued and emerging disaster relief and recovery initiatives for affected communities across the United States; $2.8 billion to support relief efforts in Haiti; and $68 million in initial disaster response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The supplemental bill provides a total of $32.8 billion in funding, as requested, for the Department of Defense (DoD) for operations, personnel costs, and equipment related primarily to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan , but also in support of ongoing operations and continued drawdown efforts in Iraq.

So the Iraq War continues but Gail Russell Chaddock and the Christian Science Monitor vanish it? Erase it. Treat it as something in the past? Go so far as to take a funding bill for it and the Afghanistan War and reduce it to just Afghanistan? That's shameful. Actually, that's worse than shameful, that's whoring. The press sold the Iraq War, they damn sure have a duty to see it through to the end.

US House Rep Lynn Woolsey (at The Hill) points out, "A week ago Sunday at approximately 10:06 a.m., after the House had adjourned for recess and Americans were enjoying their holiday weekends, our nation reached a truly disturbing milestone. At about that moment, according to the National Priorities Project, the combined amount of taxpayer money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reached a staggering $1 trillion. That's a trillion. With a 'T'." RTT News adds, "According to a report released Thursday by 'National Priorities Project,' the ongoing military operations in the two war-ravaged nations are the most expensive ever carried out by American forces since the end of the Second World War."

Why does the Afghanistan War continue? Why does the Iraq War? On the latter, US Secretary
Robert Gates offered some mumbo jumbo to David Frost on Frost Over The World (Al Jazeera, link has video and text):

David Frost: And
you've said I believe that the outcome of these conflicts must shape our world for decades to come." It's that serious, it's that important, it's that much at stake right now, Mr. Secretary?

Robert Gates: I think that. Let's take Iraq. Historians will debate whether going into Iraq in the first place was the right or wrong decision, but when I came to this job at the end of 2006, the consequences of an American defeat in Iraq, I think along the lines you just quoted, would have had impact for decades to come. A failure in Afghanistan, for NATO, I think will have consequences for a long time to come. Not just for the United States but for the alliance itself having made this commitment, and so I think these conflicts, however one might agree or disagree how they started, the outcome matters a great deal.

David Frost: And it's going to matter for a long, long time?

Robert Gates: I think so. And the good news is things in Iraq look like they're headed in a very positive direction.

And that's what you get stuck with when you don't have the guts to fire the previous administration's Secretary of Defense. That's actually an illuminating answer because many of the War Hawks maintain that the US war was just until Saddam Hussein was captured and that it's just 'peace keeping' ever since. By mentioning his fear of defeat (it was that a long time ago) and tying it to 2006, Gates is implying that the US forces were fighting . . . Iraqis. The US military was in another country fighting that country's people. It's the closest to honesty anyone in the US administration has probably ever gotten. "And the good news is things in Iraq look like they're headed in a very positive direction," gushes Gates -- putting on such a happy face despite the recent death that no one wants to go on record about but that everyone in DC whispers about. Brave Bobby Gates. Such a brave boy.

In the real world, things do not look like they're headed in a very positive direction at present. But don't just take my word on it,
here's Ayad Allawi writing in the Washington Post:


The current, sectarian-leaning government has failed to deliver such fundamentals as sustained security, improved basic services and better job prospects. Although democracy is, at its core, about the peaceful transfer of political authority, and despite his failure to get the electoral results overturned, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refuses to acknowledge his defeat or Iraqis' clear desire for change and national progress. As the winner of the election, our political bloc should have the first opportunity to try to form a government through alliances with other parties. Yet Maliki continues seeking to appropriate that option for his party, defying constitutional convention and the will of the people. Because his bloc placed second, our slate wants to meet him, without preconditions, for face-to-face talks. We are determined to build a government based on competence and professionalism instead of ethnic or sectarian identities. Regrettably, Maliki has thus far declined to meet with us.


Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which, last March, won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government. Yesterday, Little Nouri was insisting to
Anthony Shadid (New York Times) that only he could save Iraq.

Ma'ad Fayad (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports sources are stating Allawi's "begun to form the next government" via "internal meetings as well as official dialogue with the rest of the winning coalitions". Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) reports that the State of Law slate and the Iraqi National Alliance have "announced their merger". Two reports, on two different attempts to start a ruling government. Meanwhile Paulina Reso (New York Daily News) reports on the Global Peace Index: While peace and stability aren't easy to come by, this year the world fared slightly worse, partly due to the global recession, according to the fourth annual Global Peace Index. The survey, which aims to objectively measure security and violence among nations while illustrating drivers of peace, ranked 149 countries this year.The Japan Times explains, "Iraq -- for the fourth year in a row -- was the worst among 149 countries". Four years in a row. Wow, exactly where it was in 2006. Hey, April 2006, who became prime minister? Oh, yeah. Nouri. Heck of a job, Nouri.

Today's violence,
Reuters notes, includes a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 4 lives and left ten more people injured. In addition, they note a Baghdad bombing which injured two people, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two people and a Saqlawiya bombing which injured two people.

In the US today, the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee (House Veterans Affairs Committee) held a legislative hearing. To move the hearing along, Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin noted that she and the Ranking Member John Boozman were entering their statements into the record but not reading them or summarzing them during the time allotted for the hearing. What bills is Congress pushing for veterans? And would they be effective? The first panel was House members explaining their legislation.

US House Rep Peter DaFazio explained how, since the eighties, Oregon's Congressional offices had been able to do a work-study program with the VA giving the veterans work opportunities as they pursued higher education, additional skills and a nice credit on their resumes. However, in 2009 they were all informed that this would no longer be possible. "Somehwere in the depths of the VA bureaucracy, lawyers have determined this highly successful program was never authorized and is now scheduled for termination." This would create a number of lost jobs for Oregon veterans and would do so when the economy is already poor, employment opportunities hard to come by and the Oregon veterans rate of unemployment stands at over 12%. To rememdy the situation and keep the VA work-study program, DaFazio is proposing HR 4765 which would authorize the program in Oregon and hopefully create more VA work-study jobs in other states. The Subcommittee Chair and Ranking Member were both work-study students in college and Boozman is an optometrist, FYI.

US House Rep Cliff Stearns bill is HR 3685 and attempts to make it easier for veterans visiting the VA page to easily navigate through employment opportunities: "drop- down menu titled 'Veterans Employment' on its home page" which would combine government and private sector employment for veterans. It would also make the searches easier and more specific (including region).

US House Rep Jeff Fortenberry bill is HR 114. Fortenberry hopes to catch those veterans who do not use the Post-9/11 GI Bill for education because not everyone wants or needs to go to college. Fortenberry wants to provide more business opportunity by providing start-up funds for small businesses "to permit veterans elegible for assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill to elect to use those benefits to establish and operate a business that they own as a primary source of income."

The second panel was made up of veterans advocates: Richard Daley (
Paralyzed Veterans of America), Michael R. Duenas (American Optometric Association), Eric A. Hilleman (Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States), Catherine A. Trombley (American Legion) and Thomas Zampieri (Blinded Veterans Association). It was called to order by acting Chair Harry Teague (voting requirements meant there were breaks between panels).

Richard Daley felt HR 114 "will be very important to some veterans." Daley noted, "Every veteran does not want to attend college for four years," and this would allow those with business inclinations to pursue their dreams. HR 3685 would merge employment into one site on the VA's main page and Daley stated, "What a great idea. Why didn't we do this years ago?" HR 4319 was not introduced in the first panel. This bill is sponsored by US House Rep Jerry Moran and reads, "To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for certain improvements in the laws relating to specially adapted housing assistance provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs." Daley stated PVA "strongly supports" this and would assist veterans with needed home modifactions that disabilities may require. They do advocate for this being a permanent program and not a pilot.

Catherine A. Trombley said that they endorses part of HR 3685 (making employment listings for veterans on the VA home page easier). What part do they not endorse? "Drop-down menu" which they feel could bind the web page to some format even if new formats were replacing it all over the internet. HR 114 is supported by the American Legion (this is the small business effort). The work study was supported with reservations about the duties a veteran might be doing and concerns that a veteran speaking to another veteran on behalf of the work study program might be seen as an 'expert.'

Eric A. Hilleman stated his organization does not favor HR 114. "The intent of the GI Bill is to provide education and training," he stated. He noted business skills could be increased by classes or courses. The point of the GI Bill, he maintained, was "not to provide start-up money for a business" but to provide education, training and skills. They did support the work study (HR 4765) for both the experience and "the jump start on their career." June 30th, he stated, other work-study programs would be phased out. Steps to extend the programs are "tied up in another bill HR 1037" which passed the Senate in October 2009 and the House in July of last year but is stuck in reconciliation at present. Hilleman noted that the VFW not only supports work-study but itself offers internships. HR 5484 is strongly supported by the VFW. This bill was introduced by House Rep Harry Teague and reads: "To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish an annual award program to recognize businesses for their contributions to veterans' employment, and for other purposes." Note that all the above is based on oral testimony. Written opening statements were far longer. In Hilleman's written testimony, HR 5484 has no number but is listed as "Draft Bill -- Veterans-Friendly Business Act of 2010."

Thomas Zampieri referred back to the Subcommittee's meeting last fall (November 19th, see the
November 20th snapshot).

Dr. Thomas Zampieri : I want to thank you (Chair Herseth-Sandlin) and Ranking Member Boozman for introducing HR 5360 Blind Veterans Adaptive Housing Improvement Act. This came out of the hearing that we had last fall on different changes that could possibly be made in regards to adaptive housing grant program. And we had had problem with the restrictive language that was currently in place of 5/200 being used as the definition for being eligible for this grant. The standards for blindness is 20/200 or 20 degress less of peripheral field loss and we would ask that this be changed. Several reasons why. One is that a lot of individuals who are at the accepted standard of 20/200 are legally blind and they need to be able to access the adaptive housing grant in order to make changes so that they can live independently in their own homes. And this would also be consistent with what Public Law 110-157, which was HR 797, which passed back in December 2007 which corrected another problem in VBA where they were using 5/200 standard in order for paired organ. I would point out that it was sort of interesting that when that originally came up there was a lot of concern that we're going to be opening up the system for -- one estimate was like 45,000 veterans. And since that change, the actual number of veterans that have applied under the paired organ thing using the 20/200 standard is less than 500. So it's difficult when you get into these things, I think, sometimes to determine exactly the numbers that may fall out because when you're talking about clinical standards versus the-the service connected numbers of veterans who are all service connected for vision problems you may be led down the path of thinking this is a lot more veterans than what our experience has been. So we appreciate that you've introduced this. As I've testified before, there's tremendous numbers of OIF and OEF service members coming back with a variety of Traumatic Brain Injuries with vision problems and impairments and they are falling into this problem of not meeting this criteria in order to be able to have the grants. So I appreciate being able to testify today and be happy to answer any of your questions.


And we'll note Duenas nearly in full as well due to the fact that there is a feeling among veterans participating in this site's survey that blindness is an injury that's just not covered.

Dr. Michael R. Duenas: The AOA with more than 36,000 members in over 6500 communities nationwide shares your commitment to serving America's veterans including those blinded and vision disabled. In fact, many years ago the AOA proudly supported the creation of the Veterans Health Administration Optometry Service and during the more than a quarter of a century.since its inception the Optometry Service evolved into providing the majority of primary eye care and low vision rehabilitation services to our nation's veterans. Today we proudly off our support for HR 536 -- 5360, I'm sorry. This act is much needed in the special needs housing program. We believe that it is an important program that provides a vital link for our disabled veterans and helps them gain a sense of normalcy as they adjust to civilian life and a new disability. The AOA shares the Committee's concern that visual acuity standard is in need of refinement and today I would like to make three points regarding those refinements. First, as you know, the current law excludes coverage to many disabled veterans who are legally blind because it sets the threshold four times higher than the legal definition of blindness. HR 5360 will fix this lasting problem and will ultimately help our wounded warriors. The AOA, as such, supports the proposed modified standard visual acuity elegibility to include visual acuity of 20/200 as opposed to a four times worse requirement of 5/200. Secondly, through the VA optometry service, hundreds of highly trained doctors of optometry provide a critical array of high quality care, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation so as not to deny benefits for blinded, disabled veterans that used assisted medical technologies, the AOA believes that the qualified statement of best corrected needs further refinement. Without additional modification, the act could exclude legally blind veterans using special medical prescribed, low vision devices such as mounted telescopes, reverse telescopes and other special medical equipment. These devices are not considered standard glasses and are not standard, corrective lenses. Third, the AOA believes that the current definition of blindness contained in HR 5360 may not fully relate field loss to the equivalency of visual acuity loss in each eye. This determination of funcitonal equivalency is important and as such the AOA recommends that the language defining legal blindness should be consistent with the commonly used and recognized definition of legal blindness which is referenced in our written statement. Therefore the AOA recommends that the final language of the Veterans Housing Improvement Act of 2010 read as proposed in our statement submitted for the record.

In the written statement, the recommended final language reads:

Section 101(b)(2)(A) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking "5/200 visual acuity or less" and inserting "20/200 visual acuity or less, the better eye with the use of a standard correcting lens. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered for purposes in this paragraph as having a central visual acuity of 20/2000 or less."

We'll note this exchange on why the blindness definition needs to be altered.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Dr. Zampieri, if we could start with you, can you just explain in layman's terms the different between the 5/200 standard and the 20/200 standard?


Thomas Zampieri: Yes, the 5/200 is what a blind individual at five feet would be able to see versus a normal vision person would be able to see the same thing at 200 feet. And the 20/200 is the accepted standard for legal blindess and so, 20 feet, a blind individual, for example, would be able to see something on the eye chart that, again, somebody with normal vision at 200 feet would be able to see. And so all fifty states define legal blindess as 20/200 and Social Security and ironically VBA's 20/200 for determination of 100% service-connected for blindness. And so this would hopefully answer your question, but it would make it all standardized.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: So you're not aware of anywhere else -- so you've just indicated even with the other VA programs, they're using the 20/200 standard for purposes of calculating disability, service connected disability.

Thomas Zampieri: Correct.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: But, as far as you're aware, the only place where the 5/200 standard is still being used within government, within industry is -- within the profession -- is in the specially adapted housing program?

Thomas Zampieri: Right. In fact, ironically when the HR 797 was being worked on, I stumbled into the Senate version of that bill four years ago -- I actually tried to correct this 5/200 in the adaptive housing. I'm not sure how it got left out. But anyway, I think somebody on that side had realized that it was this other area and I wish it had been fixed all at once. But, yeah, this is the only place I know of in the VA's regulations where 5/200 is being applied.


There were many bills covered in the written statements that were not covered in the hearing. For example, HR 4635 (not discussed on the first panel) is a bill introduced by House Rep Marcia Fudge and it reads, "To require lenders of loans with Federal guarantees or Federal insurance to consent to mandatory mediation." The bill has ten co-sponsors (Maxine Waters, Bob Filner, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Keith Ellison, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Kendrick Meek, Mary Jo Kilroy, Danny Davis, Betty Sutton and Alan Grayson). But the above are the ones the speakers chose to emphasize in their oral statements.

While the Subcommittee explored needed veterans issues, another one exploded in the press today.
Luis Martinez (ABC News) reports, "The Army has announced major leadership changes at Arlington National Cemetery after an investigation determined that at least 211 graves may have been improperly marked or lack the necessary paperwork. Army Secretary John McHugh announced at a Pentagon briefing today that he was replacing cemetery superintendent John Metzler and placing his deputy, Thurman Higgenbotham, on administrative leave while some of his actions are investigated." Yeganeh June Torbati (New York Times) quotes McHugh stating, "That all ends today." David Martin (CBS Evening News -- link has text and should have video shortly) quotes McHugh stating, "There's simply no excuse and on behalf of the United States Army, on behalf of myself, I deeply apologize to the families of the honored fallen."


Pentagon Papers whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg was Scott Horton's guest for yesterday's
Antiwar Radio. They're discussing Bradley Manning. Who? Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video.


Scott Horton: So there's this extraordinary story here, Dan, about the guy who supposedly, allegedly stole from the government -- if that's not an oxymoron -- video of the Collateral -- what became the Collateral Murder video as it was known, put out by WikiLeaks. And apparently he has been arrested and has been held by the military for at least the last couple of weeks. And they're saying is responsible for turning over another very important video of a massacre, this one in Afghanistan. And, although I think it's denied all around so far, the rumors are that he may hae even stolen and turned over to WikiLeaks as many as half -- as many as a quarter of a million State Dept cables at the highest level of classification. So we're all anxiously awaiting your comments, sir.

Daniel Ellsberg: Well I must say that I rise to the word "stolen" that you've used there a couple of times, as is commonly done. I was often described as having stolen the Pentagon Papers from the Defense Dept or the RAND Corporation and, in fact, as I got a legal education in this subject, having started as a layman and being one of the first people ever prosecuted for allegedly stealing information -- aside from leaking information, I discovered at that time it was very clear that you couldn't "steal" information, I had "copied" information. And, in fact, although there is a copyright law that's in almost all cases a civil law -- you know, you can sue for damages if copyrighted material has been =- has been copied, or misued, the government can't copyright information and for a very interesting reason. Information is seen as essentially the property of the people who are a part of this peculiar Constitutional system that was invented here. So there wasn't at that time any concept of stealing information at that point. Now as the electronic media has proliferated, I understand that the law has evolved in that respect and that they can make a case for stealing information. But in this case -- in any case -- he was copying information and putting it out and whether the government properly owns the information that War Crimes have been committed in Iraq or Afghanistan is, I would say, a very dubious proposition. Certainly it's not a clear cut legal proposition. So let's try to get away from the notion that he "stole" actually.

Scott Horton: Yeah. Well I think --

Daniel Ellsberg: That's information that we should have had in the first place. He copied it and didn't deprive the government. By the way, the reason as I understand it, that you didn't have a concept of "stealing" information in those days and perhaps not now was that stealing or theft is basically depriving an owner of the use or the value of property that he or she has and when you copy information you're not depriving the owner of any use of it. And that's certainly the case here.

The US government is doing a push back and trying to put out that Bradley Manning is some sort of 'wack job' as evidenced by
Ellen Nakashima's Washington Post article this morning. Snitch Adrian Lano continues to attack Bradley and the US government would generally have swept up information* that Lano continues to circulate but Lano is not a 'loose cannon,' he is working with the government. So Ellen's provided with copies of instant messages -- and no one's supposed to wonder who makes copies of instant messages -- so that she can write: "Bradley Manning, 22, had just gone through a breakup. He had been demoted a rank in the Army after striking a fellow soldier. He felt he had no future, and yet he thought that by sharing classified information about his government's foreign policy, he might 'actually change something'." That, the government wants you to believe, is why Manning leaked. He was 'unstable.' Left unstated is the fact that Manning might be all the above (I have no idea) but he might be that because of what he was seeing, what he was being forced to cover up. "the US government would generally have swept up information*" is not an endorsement of that policy, it is merely noting that is the policy. Instead, they have allowed the snitch to question Bradley's sexuality, to drop hints here and there, etc. Supposedly a trial will take place. So why are you letting your snitch leak to the press? He's a snitch. He entrapped Bradley. That's demonstrated by the fact that he made copies of his I.M.s. (His entrapment does not mean Bradley is the leaker, just that he managed to get Bradley or someone to make certain statements.) The snitch keeps punching holes in his own story and it's a good thing for Bradley's defense that Adrian I-Lick Lano can't stop seeking press attention. This is from Justin Raimondo's "Free Bradley Manning!" (Antiwar.com):

Mr. Lamo is the archetypal creeper: previously known as the "homeless hacker," he was sleeping in bus stations and under bridges, earlier in his career, and logging on to computers stealing information and wrecking networks. Caught hacking into Lexis-Nexis, the New York Times, and other sites, he was "turned," and made the transition from hacker to "security expert" and, yes, self-described "journalist." What he was, and is, is a professional snitch, working for the feds -- I wonder how he paid off that $60,000 fine they slapped him with? -- while all the time proclaiming his "patriotic" motives in turning in Manning. According to various puff pieces appearing in Wired and on Cnet, Lamo "agonized" over the decision, but in the end patriotism won out:
"I wouldn't have done this if lives weren't in danger. He was in a war zone and basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air." Yes, lives were and are in danger -- the lives of
Iraqis, Afghans, and other targets of our murderous rulers, whose war crimes are being committed in the dark. Manning's "crime" is that he exposed them to the light. Manning also reportedly is the source of a video showing the massacre of innocent civilians in Garani, Afghanistan, which Wikileaks hinted at having possession of but has yet to release. Most intriguing, however, is that according to Lamo, Manning claimed to have leaked 260,000 diplomatic cables to Wikileaks -- in effect, an inside history of recent US shenanigans around the world. Manning says the cables describe "almost criminal political back dealings." The "incredible things, awful things" he discovered "belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark corner in Washington, D.C."


We'll close with
this from Military Families Speak Out:

Over Memorial Day Weekend, MFSO members spoke at commemorations and vigils from California to Maine and from Florida to Oregon with heartbreaking truth about the real impacts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in their lives. For a round-up of MFSO participation in Memorial Day events, go
here.
MFSO need your financial support to sustain our voices to keep the true consequences of these wars in the public consciousness!
In December, we wrote to you about the
Charley Richardson Legacy Fund, set up to honor the leadership and vision of our founders, Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson, who is struggling with cancer. Today we write you again to let you know about an additional $5,000 matching gift that we have received.
Help us today and double your gift - your monthly or one-time donation now will provide much-needed support to uphold our voices and help build the movement needed to end these wars.
Make a contribution today and read the tributes to Charley and Nancy at
www.mfsotribute.org.
Earlier in May, an ABC News / Washington Post poll found that a majority of Americans are again opposed to the Afghanistan war, with 52% saying it's not worth fighting. We need to build this majority! Thanks to your support MFSO continues to play a critical role in challenging the public's understanding and building the social movement that will bring our troops home now and fund their care instead of continuing misguided wars with no military solution.
Beyond the staggering physical and psychological toll these wars are taking, the financial impacts also continue to mount. As the costs of these wars soar past $1 trillion dollars, each and every town and city in the U.S. is doing with fewer services for health care, education and employment development. Your support is vital to sustaining MFSO's advocacy to ensure that those who have served their country and are fortunate to return are provided adequate services to help them in their paths back to wholeness and family stability.
It is these truths - the financial and human costs of these wars - that must be brought to the American people in order to inspire them to stand together and say No More!
Thank you for your support,
Deborah Forter, National DirectorMilitary Families Speak Out
www.mfso.org617-983-0710deborah@mfso.org
P.S. Make your tax-deductible donation today at
www.mfsotribute.org. If you would prefer to donate via check, please send your donation to Military Families Speak Out, P.O. Box 300549, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130



iraqthe washington postthe new york timesanthony shadidpaulina resothe new york daily newsthe japan times
abc news
luis martinez
cbs newsdavid martin
antiwar radioscott hortondaniel ellsbergthe washington post
ellen nakashimajustin raimondo

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fresh Air pattern, rinse and repeat

On NPR's Fresh Air yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed two authors -- one was a woman and one was a man.

What's so funny about covering this crappy show is that every time Terry books a female guest, I get six or seven e-mails insisting, "See! She's not a sexist!"

That happens about five times a month because that's about it when it comes to women. She does over 20 shows a month and about a fourth feature women.

And yet every month people get taken in. They fall for it.

We call out her refusal to book women equally and Terry's groupies rush forward to insist it's no big deal and, look, she's got a woman today!!!

It's all such nonsense.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri says only he can save Iraq (Christ complex), US military identifies a fallen, the race for Labour Party leader in the UK has its candidates, a US House committee is informed failure to implement two Inspector General findings has cost over $81 million tax payer dollars, and more.

Today the
DoD released the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt Steve M. Theobald, 53, of Goose Creek, S.C. died June 4 near Kuwait City, Kuwait, of injuries sustained in a military vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 287th Transporation Company, Livingston, Ala. For more information, media may contact the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at 407-856-6100, ext. 1132." The number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the war currently stands at 4403.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. Iraqiya is the political slate which won the most seats in Parliament in the March elections. It is headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi. They won 91 seats. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government.


Baby, I see you've made yourself all sick again
Didn't I do a good job of pretending?
You're saying that the victim doesn't want it to end
Good. I get to dress up and play the assassin again
It's my favorite
It's got personality
[. . .]
Baby, you can open your eyes now
And please allow me to present you with a clue
If I inflict the pain
Then baby only I can comfort you
-- "When We Two Parted," written by
Greg Dulli and Rick McCollum, first appears on the Afghan Whigs' Gentlemen album


Who knew Nouri was an Afgan Whigs freak?
Anthony Shadid (New York Times) sits down with Little Nouri today who insists that only he can be the new prime minister and, if it's anyone else, the country will descend into madness. Little Nouri also states that he has no interest in curtailing any powers (including those he's pretended existed) for the prime minister post. Looking beyond Nouri, Francis Matthew (Gulf News) notes, "Three months after the inconclusive March 7 elections, Iraq appears to be heading for a broad-based coalition. The danger is that it will be so broad-based that although a government may well be formed, it will lack the determination or focus to allow it to take the difficult decisions that will certainly come its way." Suadad al-Salhy, Jim Loney and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) report that the country's Constitution bars any member of Parliament from also holding "an executive post in the government" which means Nouri, "vice presidents Tareq al-Hashemi and Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Deputy Prime Minister Rafie al-Esawi and at least nine cabinet ministers including Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani" may not be able to take a seat in Parliament Monday when the legislative body is set to hold their first meeting. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) adds, "The new parliament must name a president, who would then have 15 days to designate a candidate for prime minister. That candidate would then have 30 days to assemble a government -- and if no deal is reached, another candidate would get a shot."

Shot? Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Reuters notes a roadside bombing targeting Abdul Rahman Dawood of Iraqiya which injured him and another person, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left five people injured, a Muqdadiya suicide bomber took his/her own life and the lives of 2 other people with an addition five injured, a Samarra roadside bombing injured a police officer and a bodyguard and a Basra sticky bombing (targeting a police officer) injured four people (two were police officers).

Shootings?

Mazin Yahya (AP) reports 3 jewelers were killed in their Basra stores by six unknown assailants. Aref Mohammed, Ahmed Rasheed, Jamal al-Badrani, Matt Robinson and Ralph Boulton (Reuters) adds four people were left injured and reminds that May 25th saw another "major attack on a gold market". Reuters notes 1 police officer was killed in a Mosul attack (he was on his farm -- another police officer was wounded by a Mosul grenade attack), an Abu Ghraib home invasion claimed the lives of 1 police officer and his wife (their five sons were injured), an assault on a Kirkuk Sahwa checkpoint in which 1 person was killed (two more were injured) and, dropping back to last night, 1 police officer was shot dead. AFP reports 2 Sahwa members were shot dead in Sharqat.



Over the weekend, Nouri's forces revoked Sahwa's right to carry guns.
Muhammed Abdullah (niqash) reports, "because leaders of the council were accused of being behind the assassination of some religious figures in the province" and quotes Sahwa Abu al-Fawz al-Iraqi stating "disarming us is an explicit attempt to dissolve our organisation. It will only expose us to al-Qaeda which issued a fatwa legitimising attacks against us and on our property."


As noted
yesterday, England, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden all are planning to deport Iraqi refugees despite the Geneva Conventions, despite the United Nations public opposition to the plan, despite Amnesty International and Iraqi LGBT objecting to the deportations. BBC News adds, "The flight from the UK was jointly organised by European Union governments and was also scheduled to pick up failed asylum seekers at Halmstad in Sweden." Nigel Morris (Independent of London)reports, "Ministers faced a wave of anger last night after ordering the forcible return of failed asylum-seekers to Baghdad despite the violence that continues to plague the Iraqi capital." Norway's The Foreigner notes, "The deporations contravent UNCHR (the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees) recommendations about refugees from Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa, Salah al-Din and the Kirkuk province safety.In accordance with the UN's 1951 Refugee Convention, the UNHCR believes these groups of people should continue to enjoy international protection by being classed as DPs (Displaced Persons)." England's new prime minister, David Cameron was asked about the issue today. Owen Bowcott (Guardian) reports, "The prime minister told MPs that he had discussed the situation in Iraq with US general David Petraeus, overall commander of American operations in the Middle East." News On News had the transcript of the questions to the prime minister and we'll note this section:



Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) (LD): The legacy of the former Government's disastrous decision making in Iraq is still plain to see. Will the Prime Minister look at the existing Home Office guidance on the deporting of asylum seekers to Baghdad? A plane has left today. May I ask the Prime Minister to consider the matter again, personally and compassionately, to ensure that we have a firm immigration policy, but remain a bastion for people fleeing
political persecution?


The Prime Minister: I will certainly look into my hon. Friend's point. However, I think we should recognise that whatever view we took of the Iraq conflict -- and I supported it -- at least Iraq now has some chance of stability and democracy. We are actually seeing some progress there. This morning I had a meeting with General Petraeus, who brought me up to date on what he considers to be the latest situation. It is important to remember that one of the reasons why our brave servicemen and women fought and died in Iraq was that they were trying to make it a more stable country, and a country to which people who had fled it would be able to return. Yes, of course I will look at the specific issue raised by my hon. Friend, but in general, while we are here to offer people asylum when they are fleeing torture and persecution, if we help to make their country safe they should be able to go home.


Elsewhere in news from England,
James Macintyre (New Statesman) reports, "Diane Abbott will within minutes be in a position to declare she has the 33 nominations to feature on the ballot for the Labour leadership to be decided in September, NS.com has learned. David Miliband has in the past hour nominated her, joining other big party figures such as Harriet Harman and, before her, David Lammy. The remaining MPs required are signing her nominations during Prime Minister's Questions." England's former Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray reviews Abbott's record:Voted moderately against a stricter asylum system. Voted very strongly against the Iraq war. Voted moderately against an investigation into the Iraq war. Voted moderately against Labour's anti-terrorism laws. Voted a mixture of for and against allowing ministers to intervene in inquests. Voted moderately against greater autonomy for schools. Voted a mixture of for and against introducing ID cards. Voted a mixture of for and against laws to stop climate change. Voted moderately for removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords. Voted very strongly for a wholly elected House of Lords. Voted strongly for more EU integration. Voted moderately for equal gay rights. Voted very strongly against replacing Trident. Voted moderately against introducing student top-up fees. Voted a mixture of for and against a transparent Parliament.Voted strongly against introducing foundation hospitals. Voted moderately for the hunting ban. Diane Abbott is the only possible candidate left who was against the Iraq War, against Trident and for civil liberties. All the other candidates are deeply steeped in Iraqi blood and strongly associated with New Labour's viciously authoritarian agenda. The frontrunner, David Miliband, spent most of his tenure as Foreign Secretary engaged in numerous legal attempts both to keep secret and to justify Britain's complicity in torture under New Labour.Mary Riddell (Telegraph of London) says of Abbott making the ballot, "The field is less white and less male than it was yesterday. That can only be good." Philip Webster (Times of London) offers, "The other reason for propping up Ms Abbott was self-interest. David Miliband, who nominated her himself even though he is a million miles from her politically, needs a left-wing candidate in the battle so that he can better define himself. Four Oxbridge blokes being nice to each other does not make for much of a public spectacle, let alone a serious political contest." Philippe Naughton (Times of London) pursues the same thread, "Responding to concerns about the lack of diversity in a contest in which all five candidates went to Oxbridge - Ms Abbott studied at Cambridge - Mr Miliband said: 'In the end, what matters is not where you come from but what you want to do for the country and what you've got to say to the country. That's the way the British people are going to judge us and that's the right way to judge people'." Helene Mulholland (Guardian) profiles Abbot and the four other candidates Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, David Miliband and Ed Miliband. [Disclosure reminder: I know and like the Milibands.] Balls and Ed Miliband have spoken out against Labour's support of the Iraq War in their campaign for the leadership post. For some New Labour is seen as a failure, a neoliberal turn that betrayed the party's roots. David Miliband has taken to insisting that what's at stake is Next Labour -- a clumsy phrase that, nevertheless, indicates there will no examination of the pros or cons of New Labour from him. Don't expect any deep thoughts from Paul Richards either. At the Guardian, Paul huffs in text, "These were battles to defeat the kind of leftism that Diane Abbott represents, not because Labour activists lacked socialist zeal, but because they knew that that kind of politics would keep Labour in opposition for ever and ever." Paul goes no to fret that Abbot could win. Wait, if she wins, Paul, that means what she represents is popular. So it's not really about winning elections, is it, Paul? Maybe it's time New Labour tried getting honest. Tomos Livingstone (Wales Online) quotes "the party's acting leader," Harriet Harman, stating, "Over the next few months over 4 million people will have the chance to help shape Britain's progressive future by choosing the next leader of the Labour Party."

If you live for very long without ever saying something stupid, there are three possibilities: (1) You're very lucky; (2) You can't speak; (3) You're kidding yourself. Most people will fall into the third category. I don't kid myself, I say stupid things all the time. And I know Ike Skelton who says many smart things many times. But the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee has said something so incredibly stupid that prizes should be handed out for it.
Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reports that Skelton is couching his objection to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell on, and this is a quote from him, "What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?"Well, Ike, they talk about rimming and they talk about blow jobs and they -- What world is Ike living in? Do you talk to your seven-year-old child about sex to begin with? For most of us, the answer is "no." Not in any graphic terms.I'm failing to see how an openly gay service member requires a sex talk with seven-year-old children since a presumably straight service member has never demanded the nation discuss sex with children.Ike's lived a long time and long enough to absorb many prejudices. He's smart enough to reject them and hopefully he will. If not, he needs to be voted out of office. I really like Ike but is that going to be his excuse for objecting to everything? Certainly it might to object to same-sex marriage. But for all we know, he may next object to a health proposal on the grounds that it would require seven-year-olds be told, in explicit detail, what two men or two women might do together in bed."What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" asked Ike. Presumably worried for all the straight children in the world and unaware that the population isn't 100% straight. Some of those children will be gay and some of those children will have gay parents. Ike, when you see two animals on the farm -- of the same gender -- making out in front of kids, what do you tell them about that? You offer the simplest explanation that's age-appropriate. And it's not difficult to do."In the first half of fiscal year 2010," stated Chair Bob Filner at today's House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing, "from October 2009 to March 2010, the OIG [Office of Inspector General] issued 120 reports, identified nearly $673 million in monetary benefits and conducted work that resulted in 232 administrative sanctions." Is there compliance?

To get everyone on the same page, US House Rep Cliff Sternes referenced the amended 1978 Act for the Office of Inspector General and quoted The head of a federal agency shall make management decisions on all findings and recommendations set forth in an audit report of the Inspector General of the agency within a maximum of six months after the issuance of this report and should complete final action on each management decision within 12 months after the date of the Inspector General's report." You must take action within six months and you must have completed it within one year. Sternes noted that over 11 requests remain open and over a year old.

The Committee heard from two panels. The first was the Deputy Inspector General from the VA's Office of Inspector General Richard J. Griffin. The second panel was VA's Under Secretary for Health Robert A. Petzel. In his opening statement, Griffin provided the basics on OIG's role:

Once a final report is issue, OIG follow-up staff in the Office of Management and Administration begin tracking the recommendation until they are fully implemented. For each report, we separately list recommendations and related monetary impact we expect VA to derive from implementation. In each status request we seek a description of what actions have occurred toward implementing the recommendations during the preceding 90 days. We set a 30-day deadline for VA officials to respond in writing. The response must contain documentary evidence such as issued policies, certifications, or other material supporting any request to close recommendations.

That is the statement as delivered, not as typed ahead of the hearing (there are slight differences between the written statement and the way he read it to the Committee -- and, yes, he read the thing). He explained the finanical aspect of some of this (and here I'm using the written statement):

As of March 31, 2010, we had two reports with open recommendations that represented over $81 million in monetary impact. One report from September 2007, Audit of the Acquisition and Management of Selected Surgical Device Implants, with over $21 million in monetary impact, involved an open recommendation to improve the acquisition and management of selected surgical device implants (stents, aortic valves, and thoracic grafts). The other report from September 2008, Audit of Veterans Health Administration Noncompetitive Clinical Sharing Agreements, with over $59 million in monetary impact, has multiple unimplemented recommendations related to noncompetitive clinical sharing agreements.

We'll note this exchange which provides an overview:

US House Rep Michael Michaud: A couple of quick questions -- and I want to thank the panel for coming -- my first is, why do you have a centralized follow up staff rather than having the auditors or investigators who did the origianl report do the follow up? Wouldn't it make more sense to have those that did the original report do the follow up?

Richard Griffin: It-it -- In reality, it's a collaborative effort. The follow up staff that-that uh really are the traffic cops for the receiving of the report from VA with-with the policies they've implemented or the procedures they've put in place or the training programs that they've created -- those things don't require the absolute 100% attention of the audit staff or the health care personnel who did the job. Certainly there's collaboration if there's question as to whether or not a recommendation should be closed based on the feedback that we've been given. we will consult with the expert who did the job and make sure that everyone's in agreement that it can and should be closed.

US House Rep Michael Michaud: Thank you. My second question, actually it's a follow-up to Congressman Stearns' interest in exactly how is -- does the VA stack up to other departments you look at completing the recommendations?

Richard Griffin: Well from time to time, the Counsel of Inspector Generals on Integrity and Efficiency submit a report that goes to the Congress and goes to the White House and it -- and it lists a number of different performance measures involving the IGs' activities and, as indicated in our testimony, we feel like the 94% rate that has been demonstrated in the last 12 months by VA puts it on the high end of performance compared to some of the other departments.

Later in the hearing, US House Rep Ann Kirkpatrick would pursue a similar line of questioning to Michaud's including his opening question. When she suggested that inventories needed to be on a more timely basis and that certain staff needed to be included in the reviewing process to determine whether recommendations were being met or not, she was told by Griffin it was "a matter of resources."

With a one year limit for requests to be completed and closed, you may join US House Rep Jeff Miller in expressing confusion.

US House Rep Jeff Miller: I was looking in your testimony, you talk about the 2005 report recommendations to implement more effective project management oversight. Uhm -- We're talking about five years that this oversight did not take place and corrective action should have been done, you say, five years earlier in your -- in your comments. My question is what type of system of accountability can [be] put in place to prevent a five year lag of implementing recommendations?

Richard Griffin: Is that the major construction report you're referring to? [Miller nods.] Seven of the ten recommendations in that report address the need for a quality assurance program in order to make sure that we had proper oversight and proper program management for major construction. A quality assurance group was established and this group was supposed to have addressed those things. When we went back and looked at it a second time, which we will do from time-to-time just to validate, we found that, yes, the group was created but it wasn't properly staffed, it didn't have adequate policies and procedures in place so it was -- it really wasn't a functional program oversight activity. The other two recommendations simply were not addressed during that time period.

Chair Bob Filner: [To Miller] You're yielding back when he didn't answer the question. You said: What can you do to make sure they don't go for five years without doing something? He said, 'Yes, indeed, they went five years without doing something.' So how do we make sure that there's that oversight? If I may follow up on your question, Mr. Miller.

Richard Griffin: I think there are a number of things we do. We spotlight anything that hasn't been accomplished in one year and it goes in our semi-annual report so that the Committee can be aware when we've got a report. I believe very strongly that hearings like this one are very helpful based on the flood of documentation that we've received in the last 72 hours addressing various items that needed closure. So again, I do thank you for the hearing. We do meet --

Chair Bob Filner: We should schedule one every week.

Richard Griffin: We will be here. We do meet on a monthly basis with VA and certainly those issues that are the most difficult and are the most dated are the subject of those discussions also.

As the first panel drew to a close, Chair Bob Filner asked Griffin to identify one problem area and Griffin went with procurement which "represents a huge dollar area for the department, acquistions" for drugs and contracting and stated there was too little oversight of contracts and "the people who write the policy are back in Washington and where the rubber meets the road are out in the field."

Turning to peace news. Last March, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan was arrested for peacefully protesting. Today she was suppose to go before the judge. That did not happen.
Cindy explains:

All together with the judge, defendants, prosecutor, and defense lawyer, we picked the date of June 10th. We didn't just pull that rabbit out of a hat -- EVERYONE agreed on that date. We arranged a legal team; and I raised money for my travel expenses and legal fees for the Peace of the Action defendants (three of us). As of Monday of this week, our lawyer had been in touch with the judge and everything was hunky-dory and the trial was on.
I had an early flight out of Sacramento this morning and on my way to the airport at 6am, I got a message from one of our lawyers that the trial was going to be continued because a judge couldn't be found due to some "judge'' conference." So, from Monday to Wednesday, a Judge Convention (golf games?) arose which necessitated the postponement of our trial? I would like to believe that's true, but with all of the other harassment and outright lies put together, I logically doubt the integrity of the court system. Not to mention, the officer at the Park Police station who practically admitted that I was being singled out for harassment when he said, "If you would stop protesting this stuff would stop happening to you."
Not only all of the above,
but I am calling for more protests in DC from July 4th to July 17th and I have a "stay away order" from the perimeter of the White House which includes the sidewalk in Lafayette Park that borders Pennsylvania Avenue. The order is in place until our trial -- whenever that is going to be. This stay away order will seriously hamper and limit my right to free speech.

We'll close with this is from Tim King's "
The Bigot on Comedy Central: Jon Stewart and the Crucifixion of Helen Thomas" (Salem-News):There is a reason Jon Stewart has such an intact comedy news throne. He's well educated, always current, a sharp wit; he's funny, and he's the right religion. In my mind's eye, Stewart's face keeps blurring with Ted Nugent's, and those of other heroes who have eventually shown their real colors. The reason is simple: these are the pop culture sellouts."Never Forget" Salem-News.com stands for the rights of Palestiniansand all the world's oppressed peopleI could care less what religion he or anyone else is, until it starts getting in the way of the human race, which it did in last night's program where he rips into veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas.No, I did not include the clip, that's on the Daily Show site, though I did include some video to illustrate why blind support of Israel's systematic elimination of the Palestinian people is a goal that only brings great reprisal and retaliation.It takes comedy down a dreary road in my opinion, when people like Stewart speak in terms so ignorantly offensive to Palestinians, journalists, and all people with half a brain in on-air jobs, who have some control over their final script. But all comedy aside, Stewart is heartless for attacking nine generations of American journalism and history, a person who knew Presidents when Stewart was still a baby playing in his poop.Helen Thomas, the only real voice in her league with the guts and fortitude to tell the truth about what Israel has become; a cruel gatekeeper for a whole population that owned the land Israel now comprises, only 60 years ago.






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